Healthy Summer Cooking Hacks

Summer time is certainly the season for revelry, but it doesn’t hurt to remain conscientious of what you consume during a day of fun in the sun (or a night at the bar). As a busy and health concerned college student living on a budget, I am always searching for the easiest way to eat right. Most people connote healthy eating with complicated recipes and expensive ingredients, but that is usually not the case. I’ve learned that some of the simplest fruits and vegetables can be transformed into something deliciously complex. Incorporate some of these healthy cooking hacks into your daily summer routine and I promise that your body will thank you, and that bathing suit will fit a lot better!

Coconut Water

Coconut water has been considered as Nature’s own sports drink. Packed with electrolytes, minerals, and potassium, one cup of coconut water will do more to hydrate your body than an entire bottle of Gatorade!  Not only is this magical fluid delicious on its own, it can be used in a variety of recipes.

If you’re planning on partaking in some (responsible) boozing this summer, I suggest mixing your favorite vodka or rum with coconut water in place of sodas or sugary mixes. This will cut out empty calories while keeping your body hydrated during a fun filled night!


Cashew Cheese

So if you’re a cheese lover like I am, you probably are no stranger to the negative side effects of a queso overload. The dairy and high fat content in cheese can produce cellulite, bloating, and excess weight gain. This is why I’ve searched far and wide for a healthy alternative to my favorite topping. I finally discovered a dairy free cheese like substitute that is extra high in protein and low in fat, and not to mention pretty delicious. The recipe is easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. Try it out and taste for yourself!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of raw cashews
  • 1 lemon
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Place raw cashews in a bowl of cold water and cover with a thin cloth. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain soaked cashews and pat dry.
  3. Place cashews in food processor or blender and mix with lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper (season to taste).
  4. Tada you have cashew cheese!

I like to store the final product in mason jars in the refrigerator. Just spread on toast, mix into scrambled eggs, or use in whatever recipe you’d like.

Protein Pancakes

These pancakes are super easy to make for a quick and nutritious meal on the go. You’d be surprise at how much these faux-cakes taste just like the real thing. Try this recipe for a healthy breakfast (or snack) that’s also low in fat and high in protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla Extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with canola or olive oil.
  2. Mash banana and eggs together and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix it all up.
  3. Pour medium circles of batter into skillet and flip over when the batter starts to bubble.
  4. Cook until golden brown.
  5. Top with almond butter or pour sugar-free maple syrup or agave nectar on top for a healthy way to start your day!

Movie Theater Snacks

Going to your local movie theater is a great way to spend time with friends while escaping the summer sun, but beware of the seductive concession stand full of sugary candies and fatty snacks. Even the healthiest of health nuts has a hard time avoiding the temptation of a buttery bag of popcorn. However, fear not moviegoers! There are certain ways that you can conquer the urge for nachos with cheese. Just fill a Ziploc bag with one of these snacks and stuff it in your pocket or purse before enjoying your next cinematic experience.

  • Try popping your own butter-free popcorn at home and top with healthier alternatives such as paprika, chili powder, caramel, or grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Nuts like raw cashews, almonds, or pistachios make for a great movie time snack. Just be sure to portion them out before hand otherwise you may over eat during those suspenseful scenes.
  • Edamame beans are easy to cook and can be sprinkled with salt and pepper or fresh lemon juice for a savory snack.
  • Low fat cheese sticks are hassle free and easy to transport (not to mention healthy and delicious).
  • Apples with honey or almond butter make for a great sweet treat during a movie. Just be sure to load up on napkins!

Sweet Tooth

I know that sometimes, especially late at night, many of us experience a craving for something sweet. This can be dangerous considering all of the sugar that’s loaded in our favorite desserts. High sugar and carbohydrate consumption is especially bad before bedtime due to the body’s lack of inactivity during sleep, thus transforming these foods into unsolicited belly fat. The good news is that there are many sweet and smart midnight snack alternatives that can easily be prepared at home. So next time that you reach for that box of Oreos, think twice about what else you could be doing to satisfy your sugar urge.

Jell-O

Sugar Free Jell-O is a refreshing summertime snack that’s low in carbs and calories. For a pool party last summer, I decided to amp up my Jell-O by cutting a few oranges in half, removing the fruity meat, and using the outside peels as molds for the liquid. Simply pop in the fridge for a few hours and slice into wedges. In less than three hours you have a creative, healthy, and delicious sweet treat for a hot day!

Chocolate Covered Bananas

As many of us know, bananas pack tons of potassium along with fiber and vitamin C. Along with the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, a combination of the two will serve to indulge your sweet temptation while keeping your waistline slim.

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • Dark chocolate bar or nibs
  • Granola or chopped nuts

Directions:

  1. Peel a banana, cut it in half, and place in the freezer.
  2. Melt chocolate by placing in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until melted.
  3. After the banana has frozen, dip it in the melted chocolate.
  4. If you’d like to enhance your frozen banana, roll it in granola or nuts while the chocolate is still gooey.
  5. Return the banana to your freezer for an hour and a half for a perfectly prepared decadent snack!
Choco Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 6 dates
  • 1 liter of cold water
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder
  • A dash of vanilla extract
  • A handful of ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Simply blend and enjoy!
Banana Ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ frozen and sliced bananas
  • 1 spoonful of peanut butter
  • Splash of almond or soy milk

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Freeze for two hours for a more ice-creamy consistency.
  3. Top with dark chocolates chunks or cacao nibs.
  4. Enjoy!

So relax this summer and don’t fret about gaining that break weight. These few months should allow you to decompress your mind from the troubles of school and allow you to settle into a brand new academic year!

 

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